PORTSMOUTH — May is national pet month, and Dr. Gail Counts, veterinarian and owner of Shawnee Animal Clinic (SAC), and director Sierra’s Haven Animal Shelter (SHAS), suggests dog and cat owners render special attention towards having their pets spayed or neutered to help with an ever-increasing number of stray animals in Scioto County.
Counts utilized her day off from SAC, located at 101 Bierly Road in Portsmouth, to go over to SHAS, 80 Easter Drive, also in Portsmouth to perform surgeries on adopted pets, something that helps with the over population of animals in the county.
“Actually, I come up here every Wednesday which is my day off from Shawnee Animal Clinic, and do surgeries for our adopted pets, and also for our low-income families that bring their pets in,” Counts said. “We do them for $20, and that mainly is just to try to control pet over population in our county. Really, the only way to control stray animals is to have them spayed and neutered so that they don’t just keep on reproducing.”
Counts said the experience of cats and dogs having puppies and kittens is perceived by some as an entertaining experience for their children, something that is not beneficial due to the over population problem of stray animals in the local area.
“A lot of people think that it is an experience or something for their kids, to have an animal have puppies or kittens, but they can watch that on YouTube now if they want that experience,” Counts said. “It is not a good thing. There are too many pets without enough homes, and that is a major problem all over the United States, except in states that have really strict animal control law. There are some states that require them to have their dogs and cats spayed and neutered, and if they don’t, they will be fined.”
She said she would like to see Ohio adopt strict spay and neuter laws as in other states.
“Those are some of the things that I would like to see happen here in Ohio, just because it is a way to control the population, and the states that have really stressed that, and enforced it, they don’t have stray animals,” Counts said. “We send our animals twice a month, Rescue Wagon, a program that Pet Smart started, in which they come in and take animals from our shelter where there is an over abundance of dogs and puppies and cats and take them to areas such as Wisconsin, New Jersey, Main and Vermont. Those states actually have such strict spay and neuter laws that they don’t have stray animals in their shelters, so they don’t have shelter pets for people to adopt, so we send them our excess that don’t get adopted from here and they move them to other states where they get adopted.”
It is imperative that cats are spayed and neutered, as they have the propensity to produce four litters per year, according to Counts.
“So it helps us keep our population down here, and allows us to be able to continue to take animals in, instead of just filling up, and then no one else can bring pets in,” Counts said. “The problem is, there is not a program like that for cats, so we do have an over abundance of cats, “That’s why it is really important for people to get their cats spay and neutered even male cats neutered. If they are outside roaming around, it is natural instinct for them to seek out other animals. So, with cats it is possible for them to have about four litters per year, so one cat can put up to 32 kittens into the population, with just one cat. If you have a bunch of cats doing that, it becomes a huge over population problem.”
Connie Risner, office supervisor of Shawnee Animal Clinic, located at 101 Bierly Road in Portsmouth, said pet owners should make sure their pets receive heart worm treatments, as well as annual examinations and vaccines.
“This month is heart worm prevention month, there is a special if you purchase 12 months of heart worm prevention, you get heart worm test free, and heart worms for pets in this area is really bad,” Risner said. “We strongly encourage heart worm treatment monthly, year round. We strongly recommend an annual exam and vaccines. Once a year they should come in, get there vaccines and an exam from a doctor. For the geriatric pets, ages eight years and over, they recommend blood work.”
Before going out to purchase cat or dog, Counts highly recommends pet seekers make a visit to an animal shelter.
“I would like to stress that people should consider coming to a shelter first and look before they go out and buy a dog or a puppy or a cat or a kitten,” Counts said. “They can come here to Sierra’s Haven to see what we have. We have tons of puppies, and sometimes purebreds, and we have loving cats, and all they want to do is go to a loving home, and have someone to love them. It is okay to adopt an adult cat. We have a nice place for them to go outside, and it’s a fun thing for them to do, but they want someone to own them and love them.”
For more information visit the website: sierra’shaven.org or call 740-353-5100.
Reach Portia Williams at 740-353-3101, ext. 1929, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.